Friday, May 24, 2013
A member of the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee wants the attorney general to investigate whether information was leaked improperly to The Portland Press Herald for a story on the Maine Green Energy Alliance.
In a release distributed Wednesday, Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, said he has asked Attorney General William Schneider to investigate how the newspaper learned that a pending report shows the alliance may have had inadequate financial controls and documentation but finds no wrongdoing.
Three months ago, the Government Oversight Committee asked the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability to investigate the alliance and how it spent roughly $500,000 of a $1.1 million federal grant that was intended to expand home energy audits and weatherization.
The Maine Green Energy Alliance, which had apparent links to the Democratic Party, was phased out after falling short of its goals.
The report is to be presented to the committee on Aug. 16. The article published Tuesday on the Press Herald's website and Wednesday in the newspaper reported generally on the findings, citing officials who have seen a recent draft or were briefed on the report.
"I find it deeply troubling that press accounts appear to contain protected information that has not been presented to the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee," Trahan is quoted as saying in
Wednesday's release from the Senate Republican Office.
"At a minimum, they raise the appearance of impropriety and the possibility that a Class E crime has been committed," Trahan said. In his letter to Schneider he says, "Any release of an OPEGA report prior to its public release has the potential to seriously undermine the Legislature's work and public trust.
"It raises the possibility that attempts are being made to manipulate public opinion before the results of the OPEGA evaluation can be presented to the Legislature and the general public," Trahan wrote.
Sen. William Diamond, a Democrat from Windham who serves on the Government Oversight Committee, said Trahan is jumping the gun. Diamond said the decision to ask the attorney general for an investigation should have been made by all of the committee's members, not just one.
"I don't know if we need to jump to the level of the Attorney General's Office just yet. I'd like to find out exactly what happened before we went public with this," Diamond said. "(Trahan) is really reaching. This is more than what should be happening at this point."
Contacted at home Wednesday night, Trahan said he helped to write the laws governing the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability and it is imperative that leaks be prevented to protect the agency’s credibility.
Republican Sen. Roger Katz, who co-chairs the Government Oversight Committee, advised him not to file a complaint with Schneider before consulting with the committee, Trahan said, but “I can’t look the other way because I know how important this statute is.”
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be reached at 791-6365 or at: